Ripley Village FC 1 – AFC Cubo 0

Date: Saturday 19th March 2016

Venue: The Green, Ripley

Starting line-up: Luke Arnold, Tom Golding, Salty, Pete Woodhead, Marcus Torr, Ben McGeown, Ryan Frost, Ian Clarke, Martin Shardlow, Martin Ansell, Harry Tulip

Subs: Harry Forte, Joe Mull

Cubo’s poor form continued with a disappointing defeat at Ripley Village. A combination of injuries, trips to Australia and the recurring nightmare that is ski-season meant another new line-up for the Baby Blue Army. New boy Ryan Frost starting in the centre of the park, Shards slotting in up top and veteran Salty playing in an unfamiliar right back role.

The Cubans started well with Harry Tulip finding space behind the Ripley full back twice in the first ten minutes, with only a fantastic goal-line clearance preventing Martin Ansell’s strike on the second of these breaks. As the half progressed it was the home side who looked the more dominant with the pitch making it difficult to play football, suiting the home side’s more direct approach.

The home side were looking to play off of the aerial prowess of their two front men and it took a superb recovering tackle from Tom Golding to block a goal bound effort from one of these flick-ons.

With Cubo struggling to clear their lines Ripley were able to pile the pressure on the Cubo goal, with a series of crosses raining in on the Cubo box but unlikely Club Lothario Luke Arnold was up to the challenge, coming from his line on numerous occasions to deal with the threat.

With the game opening up Cubo regained the initiative in the latter stages of the half and had two good chances to take the lead. First up another break down the left by Tulip saw the ball flashed across the box into the path of Clarkey who guided his volley goal-wards but also directly at the Ripley keeper who did well to block the effort away to safety.

Shortly afterwards Ansell was released down the right and he pulled the ball back to Ben McGeown who flipped a curling effort past the keeper but also past the far post.

The second half continued in much the same way as the second with Cubo struggling to put together any consistent passages of play and Ripley edging the physical contest. Ripley were grateful to their keeper for pulling off a fantastic save from Ansell who looked like he had opened the scoring having done well to work a shooting opportunity on the edge of the box but the keeper got a strong hand to the shot to push it onto the post.

Ripley’s determination to defend their goal was evidenced by the follow-up which Joe Mull looked a nailed on favourite for but the Ripley centre half somehow got a boot to the ball to block what would have been a tap-in.

In a tight game taking your chances is paramount and Cubo would come to regret it when Ripley finally took advantage of one of their numerous corners. There appeared to be little to no danger on when the corner was tamely aimed towards the front post but Cubo failed to attack the ball, instead allowing it to run across the goal-line where the Ripley midfielder just had to nudge it over the line. A sucker punch for Cubo who would have felt that the game was going their way.

The goal took the wind out of Cubo’s sails somewhat and with the home side displaying gamesmanship that Big Sam Allardyce would have been proud of, the away side could not find enough fluency to trouble the home side. Credit to the Ripley centre-halves who marshalled the back-line throughout, giving the Cubans nothing easy all game long though Cubo will be disappointed not to have stretched them more and failing to exert any real pressure on the Ripley defence.

When the final whistle came there was a sense of frustration among the Cubans who will feel that they should have got something from a game with Ripley but have once again come away with nothing.

There were some positive signs with Ryan Frost putting in a strong performance in the centre of the park and centre halves Torr and Woodhead dealing with the physical battle well on a difficult pitch. Credit goes to Ripley who played to their strengths and dominated the battle for a majority of the game.

MOTM – Ryan Frost

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